When I was young . . . . . There was no money to buy music, and the local radio station transmitted the cheaper end of "popular music". The existence of concert halls, recordings of good music, and radio stations broadcasting classical music did me no good - no access. A young person in my circumstance nowadays can find whatever music he wants. I would have devoured it.
You and I have posted enough on the same threads, enough times, that I can state UNEQUIVOCALLY that you are far from typical. Not minimizing your situation in any way, but I am certain that several of us could not get enough good music into our ears when we were growing up. In my particular case, I believe I made extreme use of the occasional LP my parents were able to purchase, and to which I listened on my Sears Mickey Mouse Silvertone (monaural) record player. Extreme use! So here’s an important point: I am not at all certain that I would have been better off having a wider variety of pieces from which to chose. Precisely because of the limitation, I was forced to chose wisely, and to completely absorb the little I had available.
My father attended ONE concert in his lifetime where the headliner was an international artist - Enrico Caruso. He spoke of it often for fifty years thereafter!
In the arts, "the industry" (music, literature, movies) seeks to make a profit, caters to the common denominator. It not only follows trends, it also creates them. It tries to shape the "youth market" etc.
All very true, and the profit motive has been one of the keystones of the business of music, literature, and the movies for years. But prior to the free-or-cheap-to-everyone mentality, there were certain standards co-established by the ARTISTS and the BUSINESS PEOPLE in those industries. For instance, a record company could not afford to produce a recording session starring Mortimer Snerd, when the cost to do YoYo Ma was only slightly more. They were assured of selling product with YoYo. And from the other end, if old Mort the Hurdy-Gurdy virtuoso wanted to put out a record, he had to come up to the level of Maestro Ma, or pay to produce it himself. Either way, there was a coarse refining process, where the stuff that got recorded, or bound into a book, or projected onto the big screen was, generally speaking, worth listening to, or reading, or watching.
As always, it is the short-sighted, in-it-for-the-fast-buck individuals and companies who cater to trends (fads), and much more the media that attempts to shape the markets, in the same way that they attempt to shape our thoughts and opinions, under the guise of “news”.
Speaking practically as a student, I can listen to any compare the renditions of a number of musicians playing the same work. It's not as simplistic as "Listen to how it sounds and copy it." Between a student and teacher, it can lead to a rich discussion about why Horowitz chose one interpretation, Rubinstein another, and Sokolovski still another. Even the choices of amateurs can be used for teaching points. I have also found rare versions which we cannot find for sale since they are not "popular enough" by the industry to be lucrative.
I cannot argue with the value of using this aspect of the internet for research, the same as samasap does for teaching. It is superior in both cost and efficiency. I would mention, though, that comparison of interpretations between artists has not just come on the scene recently. I have done it for years between recordings of various artists, and even recordings of the same artist from various periods in her/his career. And as far as auditioning music on which the student will work, how about the teacher looking at the scores (at a music store) and calling upon the mind’s ear ?
You mentioned the internet’s ability to allow you to investigate ancient, ancient music. I certainly cannot form a judgment here, except to offer this opinion: What you see and hear are truly a modern conceptualization and execution of ancient music (probably very scholarly handled). You are not experiencing ancient music.
It is HOW WE MAKE USE OF IT --- foolishly or wisely. And maybe our character and ethics are at stake, since we have choices to make.
I frequently have trouble separating my natural resistance to change (where things are absolutely fine the way they are ((were)) ); from my ability to evaluate the newer thing. A good, reliable acid test of me is the question, “Is this better?”
Dave Frank, a superb jazz pianist and teacher and Forum Member here, does all of his master classes “on line”. I would not currently be able to enjoy his fantastic presentations (mediocre sound and all) if it were not for the internet. So, that is better == OR == He would be forced to release them on DVD, as I have suggested to him. Better yet!
For research, the internet CAN be a wonderful, inexpensive, and fast tool, so that is better. That established, I am having trouble visualizing any other way that it is an improvement upon what preceded. And, as I have already mentioned, the drawbacks are many, and severe.
You folks will need to excuse me now. I want to get back to YouTube and see if that young fellow actually found his other sock or his comb.